Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Year in Review: Life-Change Story #1

It is hard to believe that we are coming up on our one-year anniversary as a church. Time goes by so fast when you're doing what you love with people that you love. And having our fourth child seems to have only helped that progression of time accelerate. So, before our one-year anniversary gets away from me, I want to take the next couple of weeks to remember some of the most amazing moments and life-changing stories from our first year as a church. I can only hope and pray that our second year of ministry is as fruitful as the first.

Life-change story #1

I first met Julie Deffenderfer in the spring of 2007 when she walked into my office at HCBC Pflugerville needing some pastoral counseling related to her marriage. During our initial conversation, I shared the simple gospel message with her and she said that she was ready to trust Christ right there in my office. I was thrilled to lead her to Christ that day.

Fast forward a year to the spring of 2008. Julie decided to come with us to the church-plant in RR and had been attending since the launch when she called to tell me that her mom was in the hospital struggling with treatment of her throat cancer. Julie's mom, Norma, had been struggling with cancer for 2 years, but had taken a turn for the worse and was staring her own eternal destiny squarely in the eye. Julie said that Norma (and her husband Pat), who were not "church-going people," had requested to speak with a pastor. So Julie called me and I headed to the hospital.

During the time in the hospital room with Pat and Norma I was able to present a clear gospel to them, and both of them responded to the invitation to put their faith in Christ. It was an incredibly moving experience to meet with two people who were so broken and soft toward God after dealing with such a tremendous trial over the last two years. After Pat and Norma expressed their trust in Christ, they attended church whenever Norma's health allowed her to. Toward the end of the spring, we announced that we were going to be baptizing and Norma approached me about getting baptized.

Norma was concerned about not being able to be immersed because of her open throat wound, but was deeply committed to the idea of getting baptized. I told Norma that God cared more about her heart that the act of immersion, and that if she would come to our baptism at the river, we would pour the water over her head rather than immerse her in the river. She was thrilled, and the whole family came to watch her be baptized.

At 57 years of age, Norma Rowley publically declared her faith in Jesus Christ through water baptism. It was a sight to see and incredibly moving. I'm pretty sure there wasn't a dry eye on the shore of the river that evening as we witnessed the tremendous courage of our new sister in Christ.

The story doesn't end there. After a long 2 1/2 year journey with cancer, Norma Rowley went home to be with the Lord
this Sunday afternoon. I'm doing the funeral tomorrow morning at a funeral home in Cedar Park and will be able to declare with confidence that Norma is with the Lord, healed from the painful disease that ravaged her body here on earth. I thank God for the opportunity to share the gospel of Christ with this wonderful family, and I'm grateful to be a witness to the life-change He brings.

We serve an incredible God, don't we?


Brent said...

Oh, man. "Incredible" doesn't even begin to describe Him.

And, I'm thankful to Him to have been at Trinity Life during the time I was, and encouraged to no end by the work you & Barie are doing.

Thanks for shepherding...and it's cool to have watched you move from "friend" to "colleague." It's an honor to have you in the same "profession."

Elizabeth said...

Thanks for sharing such an awesome "walk" in faith.
Will be looking forward to reading more.
Keep up the wonderful work...I'm proud of you!
Love, Mom

Kendall said...

One year! That's amazing. Thanks for sharing these stories all about what God has done. They are so encouraging.
Kendall and Adam